Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Sentence Structure in Siddhartha

Simple, Compound, Complex, and Compound-Complex Sentences

Jane Baber | Published: November 8th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 9th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts
  • Course Course A.P. Literature and Composition


Sentence structure adds variety, interest, and impact to a text. Different sentence structures are composed of clauses and combinations of clauses, and these add varied sentence lengths and styles to a text. This lesson asks students to identify and practice writing simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences using the novel Siddhartha by Herman Hesse as a mentor text. Students will workshop existing sentences to modify them to different structures in order to change the impact on a text.

Essential Question(s)

How does sentence structure impact the effect of an author’s words?



Students compare and contrast the impact of various captions inspired by Siddhartha to an image inspired by the text.


Students complete a Rainbow Write via a Jamboard to manipulate the parts of speech into complete sentences.


Students learn about the four sentence structures and modify a passage from Siddhartha to integrate each type.


Students share how their modified sentences and discuss how sentence variation impacts an author’s words.


Students complete a Muddiest Point reflection and explain how understanding sentence variety can help prepare for reading a text like Siddhartha.


  • Access to Siddhartha (if using this lesson in conjunction with the text)

  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Sentence Structure Practice (attached; one per student)

  • Siddhartha Introduction (attached; one per student)

  • The Basics (attached; one per student)

  • Rainbow Write Jamboard- Sentence Structure in Siddhartha (linked below; forced copy; one per student)

  • Picture Captions (attached)

  • Student devices

  • Wifi or internet capabilities

  • Pens or pencils


Being the lesson by displaying slide 3 in the attached Lesson Slides. On this slide is an image of a boy sitting in a detailed setting. Instruct students to observe the image for a minute, taking in the details and formulating an analysis in their mind of what is happening in the picture.

Next, pass out the attached Picture Captions handout and instruct students to read the four different "captions" for this image. After they read each caption, they should compare it to the picture. Slides 4-7 have the image and the different captions included. Read each of these captions aloud to the class (alternatively, consider having students read them out loud to the class or with a partner). The captions need to be read aloud to hear the flow of the different writing styles. Immediately, it should become clear that the content is nearly identical in each caption, but the structure and length differ.

Once they have read all four captions, have them explain which caption they personally prefer and write their reflection independently at the bottom of the handout. This reflection should explain which caption was most effective for a reader, and why. Encourage students to contrast the caption they chose with one that they did not find effective as supporting evidence.

After students have had time to write, go through each caption one at a time, asking for volunteers to share their thoughts on how that caption fit the image. Ask:

  • What makes this caption effective for a reader?

  • What makes this caption ineffective for a reader?

  • What is the impact of the way this is written on your experience as a reader?

Student responses will widely vary on which caption they prefer, but after responses are shared you should be able to point out that they have all noticed the impact and effectiveness of different sentence structures and lengths on receiving a text, both visual and written.

Tell students that the image and texts they have been analyzing are inspired by the novel Siddhartha.

Review slides 8-9 with students. These slides provide contextual information about the novel Siddhartha and introduce the focus of the lesson.

Tell students that Siddhartha is both the novel’s title and the name of the protagonist. Siddhartha goes on a journey of self-discovery and spiritual enlightenment. In his quest to understand the world, he desires to live simply. Although Siddhartha seeks a simplified life, Herman Hesse wrote the novel in a beautifully poetic style that can sometimes feel complicated to the reader.

The effect of Hesse’s writing style in Siddhartha is intended to mimic the spiritual texts that guide Siddhartha’s journey and the inner experiences of Siddhartha’s learning and states of mind.

Display slide 10-11 and share the lesson’s essential question and learning objectives with students.


Share with students that they have already started considering how length and structure affect an author’s words. Next, they will explore formal details about sentence structure.

To explore the parts of speech and parts of a sentence, display slide 12 and invite students to explore through a modified version of the Rainbow Write strategy. Using a Google Jamboard, (this link will create a force copy for each student) students should build sentences out of different parts of speech. Each will be color-coded differently so students can "see" the different parts of the sentences.

Once students have composed sentences out of the words provided in the Jamboard, ask them to take a screenshot of their finished sentences. These screenshots can be shared via Google Classroom.

Once screenshots are shared, review the sentences that students composed. Tell students that these building blocks of sentences are also building blocks of bigger elements of a sentence called clauses.


Being by displaying slide 13 and passing out the attached The Basics handout. Tell students that sentences are made of phrases and clauses and that these two slides show the clauses that are the building blocks of the variety of sentences they will find in the texts they read.

Move to slide 14 and go into further detail about independent clauses and provide examples for students to discuss.

Move to slide 15 and go into further detail about dependent clauses and provide examples for students to discuss.

Next, show slide 16, which introduces the four sentence structures. All are effective for achieving a particular impact in an author’s writing, but the author is always aware of what that particular impact is. Ask students, what potential effects does a very short sentence have compared to a very long sentence?

Students may respond that a very short sentence can convey a sharp, blunt emotional response due to its staccato nature. It can also be useful for giving basic information when elaboration is not needed. A very long sentence can have a soothing, alluring quality that is lyrical in nature. Additionally, a very long sentence may convey much information that is too complicated to break down in a short sentence.

After the discussion, pass out copies of the attached handout Sentence Structure Practice to each student and display slide 17.

Once you have read through and discussed the sentence types (slides 17-20), direct students to the corresponding, paraphrased sentence from the first chapter of Siddhartha. Instruct students to work independently or with a partner to identify the required parts of the sentence types. Repeat this for each of the four sentence structure types.

Return to the examples students created from their Jamboard Rainbow Writes. Can they see the connection between nouns/pronouns and subjects? Verbs and predicates? How the parts of speech are connected to clauses, and clauses to complete sentences?

Display slide 21 and revisit the essential question, looking at the paraphrased sentences from Siddhartha and the other handouts with examples, how does sentence structure impact the effect of an author’s words?


After students have responded using the handouts as evidence, pass out the attached handout, Siddhartha Introduction. Display slide 22 and instruct students to read the original passage from Siddhartha. This is a portion of the first chapter. Give students time to read this one-pager independently. It is not only lengthy, but the sentences are complicated in structure. Provide at least 10 minutes for students to read. If they finish reading early, ask them to read it again.

Now ask again, how did sentence structure impact the effect of Herman Hesse’s words in this first chapter portion of Siddhartha?

Display slide 23 and bring student’s attention to the second page of the handout. There are four brief sections from the passage. Assign students to either work independently, in partners, or in small groups. Instruct students to read the passages, choose a sentence structure (simple, compound, complex, or compound-complex), and try their hand at modifying the sentences to suit that structure. Make sure to remind students that they are to choose each structure at least once and are free to modify and add words in the original passages to suit their needs.

After students have modified the Siddhartha passage to try writing in different sentence structures, ask them to share their sentences. This can be done first in partners or small groups, then take a few volunteers to share their sentences. Take volunteers for each type of sentence structure.

Move to slide 24, and reflect on the process. Ask: How did changing the sentences impact the text? How would the reader’s experience be different with Hesse’s lyrical approach "reduced" to many simple sentences rather than long, flowing sentences?


Display slide 25 and inform students that their reflection is based on a modified version of the Muddiest Point strategy.

First, reiterate the Essential Question for this lesson: How does sentence structure impact the effect of an author’s words? Next, ask, why is sentence variety important?

Have a class discussion and take notes where students can see as they share their reflections. After the discussion has ended, ask students to reflect further on a sticky note by answering the question: "What specifically is still confusing (very or slightly) about this discussion?" (This is an iteration of the Muddiest Point strategy). Student responses can be used as a formative assessment to see where most confusion is occurring, which parts of speech need review, etc.

Move to slide 26 and pose the question, how does understanding the intentional effect of sentence structure help prepare you to read Siddhartha? Other texts?